Who Shops at Art Cologne? Meet Some of the World-Weary Connoisseurs Who Collect at the Über-German Art Fair

On the preview day of Art Cologne 2018, we stopped a few collectors and other visitors to gather their thoughts on the world's oldest fair.

Art Cologne 2018.

The oldest art fair of its kind in the world, Art Cologne began in 1967 as an event designed to satisfy the art-collecting appetites of Germans in the Ruhr Valley and the Rhineland who had been enriched by the country’s post-WWII economic miracle. True to its history, the fair remains a rarely local operation in today’s ever-globalizing art world, and it is known for catering to the sophisticated—not to say demanding—tastes of its collectors, many of whom come from families that have been buying art for generations.

This year, to encounter some of these old-growth collectors in their natural habitat, we buttonholed a few fairgoers during Art Cologne’s preview day to see how they approached the festivities, what they were buying (or what they had sold), and to get their opinions on what they would like to see more of in the coming years.


Geesche Terlau

Where are you from? Cologne.

What do you do? I’m an artist and a collector as well.

So you’ve been coming here for years? Since I was a child.

What do you collect? I collect young, upcoming artists.

What are you looking at today? Christian Theiß at Clages, Megan Kelly Rooney, and Lutz Braun.

Did you buy anything yet? I just bought a work by Christian Theiß. I had one already of these sculptures, and I wanted to buy another.


Jacques and Ingo

Where are you from? Berlin.

Are you collectors? Ingo is a collector and I am an artist.

What do you think of the fair this year? It feels like its increased a little bit in size. But if you walk the fair and ask yourself what is new and what is challenging and lasts more than five days, I find it a bit dry. And the price of the water is too high–it’s more expensive than beer!

What kind of work do you collect? Contemporary art.

Any highlights? We’re living in a Baroque time and everything is trying to get attention. It’s a lot of amusement. We just saw a lady take off her clothes and walk around, and we’re not even shocked.

So you’re not impressed? As a young boy coming from France, I was impressed by Joseph Beuys in Germany. I used to think, “These are characters!” Today you see so many replicas.


Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt 

Where are you from? Between Vienna and Cologne.

What is your occupation? We are old people.

How long have you been coming here? Since it started.

Has it changed a lot? There is Maastricht, but Art Cologne remains a strong regional fair. It has gone through fluctuation. Now they have concentrated the three different floors. Our age of collectors prefers what’s on the ground floor and less the ones upstairs who try things that are completely experimental. Sometimes we find something new up there, but downstairs is what we are used to. Sometimes we discover someone less established than we are used to like David Reed, who I love. I bought a work from him last year at Anke Schmidt.

Have you bought anything today? No, it’s the first day. First we look around and collect information and prices and consider how they changed. Then we sit down at home with a nice bottle of wine and go through everything.

What is a highlight of your collection? Tom Wesselmann, Christo, and Chillida. But we just started with Old Masters from the 17th century that we bought Maastricht. They are small ones—terribly expensive. That all started because of lemons and oranges, actually. I became so concentrated on these oil paintings, and the quality of the lemons and oranges and their peels and colors.


Matthias Harder and Brigitte Waldach

Where are you from? Berlin.

What do you do? I am an artist showing at the fair with Galleri Bo Bjerggaard, and Matthias is an art historian and curator.

What brings you here? Brigitte: My gallery is showing some works of mine.

Matthias: There are a couple of fairs one has to go to. For me as a curator, Art Berlin and Art Cologne are a must.

How do you think the fairs compare? Well, Berlin is Berlin. Berlin is growing up a little bit and it’s an avant-garde fair—it’s more of an exhibition than a fair. But Cologne is the mother fair. You see this incredible standard. Ten years ago though, it was a different situation and [Art Cologne director] Daniel Hug has done a lot here.

What have you seen that you’ve liked so far? Too soon to say yet. You get a little bit flashed by all the big names at the very beginning when you go right up these stairs onto the main floor.


Dr. Max F. and Corina Krawinkel

Where are you from? Cologne.

Is this your first time at the fair? No, we’ve come every year since we were children with our parents. I am one year older than Art Cologne!

What do you think makes this fair so strong? It’s because of the collectors. They have factories and small family businesses and whenever they have money they come and buy art. It’s a tradition here. It’s also very diverse here.

Have you bought anything yet? We were thinking about three artists. We only collect German contemporary art. But we are thinking about one painting by Jorinde Voight, Katharina Grosse, and an emerging artist, Ellen Gronemeyer. For us in the Rhineland she was a new discovery.

What are some highlights of your collection? Anne Imhof, Tobias Brothers, Thomas Zipp. We have a selection of Anne Imhof’s works in our dining room, including a work from her first performance, Angst, and one of the ones with scratches. We would like to have one in oil, but they are always gone by the time we get to them.

What do you wish to see more of next year? More galleries from other places, like New York. They’re a little bit shy maybe because of collectors like us, but we’d like to see them here more.


Giselle Lechner and Yasemin Hakverdi

Where are you from? Aachen

What do you do? I am a model and Yasemin is an artist.

What have you seen so far at the fair? I am thinking about an Andy Warhol and Julian Opie.


Holger Marqardt

Where are you from? Berlin.

What do you do? I am a consultant and I collect art.

Did you come to Art Cologne last year? Not last year. I come often, but not every year.

What’s your favorite work so far? I haven’t found my highlight yet.

What kind of work are you drawn to? I normally buy from young artists.


Daniel Knorr with his work at Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder.

Daniel Knorr

What do you do? I’m an artist.

Where are you from? I’m originally from Romania but I live in Berlin.

Is this your first time showing at Art Cologne? No, it’s my third or fourth time.

What do you think of the fair this year? It’s great. I just had a piece sell really quickly and I’m super happy. It starts to be the case that German market is gaining interest in my work, and maybe it has to do with my participation in documenta last year. The German market is really vivid and more fluent than it used to be.

Is there another artwork that stood out to you? Within this booth, I recommend Michal Budny’s work. It’s one of my favorites.

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